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June 23, 2017

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Insults & education share nothing

My Thursday afternoons follow a routine I rarely break. By 3 o'clock or so I am ready to tackle this weekly votive offering for page 4. If I feel the need, I grab a quick nap first. If not, it's a cup of coffee that I grab as I head to the computer screen.

Today I needed the nap and, Holy Toledo, in the nap a reader of this Sunday column of mine appeared, someone I do not know. Upon hearing my name (we were on the telephone), he said in a whiny, raspy voice that dripped with disgust: "I used to read you every week, just religiously. Then you got to hanging yourself by the same old rope. Same topics, week after week, you hear me? I didn't like the repetition, so I gave up on you." I winced at his words.

It was just a dream, but my critic's point was as valid as a check from an honest millionaire. With all my heart, I dread losing readers by being predictable.

Today I must take that chance, however, for I am focusing on an issue the media have brought to our attention again and again in the past; honestly ad nauseam, and a problem I've discussed before. The topic leapt into these headlines in a local English paper a few days ago — "Corporal punishment still commonly used in schools" (TT 11-22-12 p. 4).

Now, I know I cited a widely publicized survey among our teenage population last week (can you see the worried look on my face?), and I promise with hand over my heart to not even whisper "survey" next Sunday, but we should not overlook this report.

The Humanistic Education Foundation in Taipei said last Thursday that a survey it had administered over the past sixty days to some 1,112 elementary school students and 1,112 junior high students in 22 counties reveals that corporal punishment is alive and well in Taiwan schools, even as we near the 13th year of the 21st century.

Slightly over 95 percent of the high school students in the survey said they had witnessed corporal punishment in their schools. The figure was more encouraging, but still sad, in our elementary schools, where 89 percent of the students said they'd seen teachers use corporal punishment. The study essentially says that nine out of 10 schools in Taiwan continue to rely on physical discipline to deal with their students.

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